Tuesday Reads: Unintended Consequences and Other Karma EditionPosted: July 8, 2014
Here’s a little this and that to read!
A Massachusetts-based startup called MicroCHIPS has developed an implantable contraceptive chip that can be wirelessly controlled.
Because the device can be turned on and off with a remote, women will no longer need to go to a clinic for an outpatient procedure when they need to deactivate their birth control. MIT Technology Review reports.
The chip is a 20-millimeter square, about 7 millimeters thick, and each day, it dispenses 30 micrograms of a hormone called levonorgestrel, which is already being used as a contraceptive in the U.S.
The technology, which was designed to deliver a variety of drugs, stores the compounds in an array of tiny reservoirs on the chip. These microreservoirs are sealed with a platinum and titanium membrane before the chip is implanted under the skin of the buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen. When an electrical current from an internal battery is applied, the membrane seal melts temporarily — in a controlled degradation — and releases the dose of the hormones or drugs.
For some reason, I could see this falling into a whacko judge’s hands.
Police are dealing with the fallout from some unexpected fireworks over the past few days in Chicago. Eighty-two people were shot, 14 of them fatally, over the long Fourth of July weekend, according to the Chicago Tribune. The string of incidents kicked off in the afternoon on Thursday.
Five of the shootings involved police, reports CBS Chicago, and two male teens were killed by officers in separate incidents.
In the most recent fatal shooting, an unidentified 44-year-old woman was shot at a barbecue around 12:30 a.m. Monday in the city’s Morgan Park neighborhood, according to the station. She was shot as she leaned into a car in a parking lot and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“While to date we have had the fewest murders since 1963, one victim is too many and there is clearly much more work to be done,” said police spokesman Martin Maloney.
Dozens of others were wounded in shootings throughout the holiday weekend.
The fallout-continues in the Hobby Lobby case. Not only has SCOTUS pierced the corporate veil, but they’ve opened up all kinds of challenges from people that I’m sure they really didn’t intend to support. This includes devout Muslims at Gitmo. Notorious RBG was sure right about this.
Lawyers for two Guantanamo Bay detainees have filed motions asking a U.S. court to block officials from preventing the inmates from taking part in communal prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The lawyers argue that – in light of the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision – the detainees’ rights are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The motions were filed this week with the Washington D.C. district court on behalf of Emad Hassan of Yemen andAhmed Rabbani of Pakistan. U.K.-based human rights group Reprieve said both men asked for the intervention after military officials at the prison “prevented them from praying communally during Ramadan.”
During Ramadan, a month of prayer and reflection that began last weekend, Muslims are required to fast every day from sunrise to sunset. But what is at issue in this case is the ability to perform extra prayers, called tarawih, “in which [Muslims] recite one-thirtieth of the Quran in consecutive segments throughout the month.”
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, told Al Jazeera on Friday that the “Defense Department is aware of the filing,” and that the “government will respond through the legal system.”
The detainees’ lawyers said courts have previously concluded that Guantanamo detainees do not have “religious free exercise rights” because they are not “persons within the scope of the RFRA.”
But the detainees’ lawyers say the Hobby Lobby decision changes that.
Judge Richard George Kopf, a George H.W. Bush appointee to the federal bench who maintains his own personal blog, has some harsh words for the Supreme Court in the wake of their birth control decision in the closely watched Hobby Lobby case: “the Court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid. As the kids says, it is time for the Court to stfu.”
Just in case there is any ambiguity regarding what Judge Kopf means by “stfu,” he links to an Urban Dictionary page which defines that grouping of letters as an “[a]cronym used for the phrase ‘shut the fuck up’ for efficiency reasons.”
Earlier in the same post, Kopf explains that he believes that the Court is diminishing its own prestige by deciding cases such as Hobby Lobby:
In the Hobby Lobby cases, five male Justices of the Supreme Court, who are all members of the Catholic faith and who each were appointed by a President who hailed from the Republican party, decided that a huge corporation, with thousands of employees and gargantuan revenues, was a “person” entitled to assert a religious objection to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate because that corporation was “closely held” by family members. To the average person, the result looks stupid and smells worse.
To most people, the decision looks stupid ’cause corporations are not persons, all the legal mumbo jumbo notwithstanding. The decision looks misogynist because the majority were all men. It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican. The decision looks religiously motivated because each member of the majority belongs to the Catholic church, and that religious organization is opposed to contraception. While “looks” don’t matter to the logic of the law (and I am not saying the Justices are actually motivated by such things), all of us know from experience that appearances matter to the public’s acceptance of the law.
Despite his strong words, it is unlikely that the alternative course Judge Kopf thinks the Court should have taken would have led to a different practical result than the victory Hobby Lobby received last Monday. “What would have happened if the Supreme Court simply decided not to take the Hobby Lobby cases? . . . . Had the Court sat on the sidelines, I don’t think any significant harm would have occurred.
Just when you think you heard enough about Japan, Typhoons and nuclear plants we now have this on the horizon. Go check out the potential path of destruction and worry.
Typhoon Neoguri reached sustained winds of over 150 miles per hour Sunday, making it a ‘super typhoon,’ as it continued to gain force and approach Japan’s southern and western islands. It is likely to cause heavy rains and strong winds across much of Japan, and threaten at least two nuclear power plants in its path.
Heavy rains from another storm have already been setting records in Kyushu, Japan’s southern and southwestern-most major island, where Neoguri is likely to make first landfall. Kyushu is home to two nuclear plants, which have been shut down for safety in advance of the storm’s arrival. A nuclear plant on nearby Shikoku island has been shut down for safety, as well. After making landfall, the storm is expected to move north through virtually all of Japan, losing strength as it travels up the island.
Fukushima, in the east, is likely to be spared. The 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi plant focused attention on the vulnerability of nuclear plants, as radioactive water continued leaking for over a year after a tsunami and earthquake hit. Tokyo is also likely to miss Neoguri’s worst.
Japan Meteorological Agency warned that Neoguri would be an “extremely intense” storm by Tuesday, and issued emergency warnings for the southern islands, calling the super typhoon a “once in decades storm.” While powerful and dangerous, Neoguri will not be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands, left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused a major humanitarian crisis in the Philippines last year. Haiyan may have had the strongest sustained cyclone winds on record, at 195 mph.
Neoguri is currently as strong as a category 4 hurricane and it appears likely to hit Kyushu as a category 3, with winds between 111 and 130 mph.
Republican hysteria still exists, but it increasingly finds its expression not in policy but in a melange of scandal allegations. The threat to the Constitution once epitomized by such things as Obamacare, socialism, and Greece has instead taken the form of Benghazi, the IRS, and Bergdahl.
The reformicons’ retreat from Ryan-style apocalypticism is not only a shrewd tonal shift, but also a welcome — albeit unacknowledged — recognition that the party’s doomsaying has not come to pass, and that the American way of life will indeed survive Obama’s reforms. Indeed, the success of Obama’s domestic agenda may create more space for a conservative counteroffensive, in the way that Reaganism opened political room for Bill Clinton. Whether or not the reformicons ever compose a workable domestic agenda, they have come to recognize that they cannot run a presidential campaign promising to rescue America from fire and rubble visible only to themselves.
If you want to see the clearest symptoms of the prion disease that has devoured the brain of the Republican party, the state Republican party is your Patient Zero. And, before a whole bunch of people in the Beltway media playpen begin minimizing this craziness because it pretty much shatters the whole idea of Both Sides Doing It without which most of those people can’t get out of bed in the morning. This isn’t four guys in camo in Idaho. This isn’t a guy broadcasting on a short-wave from upper Michigan, or receiving the truth about chemtrails and the Illuminati through his teeth. This is the Republican party representing the state from which he got our last Republican president, and one of the biggest states in the Union.
Yes, it’s Charles Pierce at his wonky best.
It just seems so many people don’t think ahead these days. They’re so focused on money or votes or profit that the rest of us get screwed royally with their expedient answers to life.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?